Sunday, June 08, 2008

There's no idiocy like British idiocy

Security van makes 120 mile trip to escort prisoner 200 yards

A security van was sent on a 120-mile round trip to move a prisoner 200 yards to avoid breaching his human rights. Mark Bailey, 35, was taken to a Crown Court but after a brief hearing sent immediately to the magistrates' court across the road. Police said Bailey could not be walked across the street in handcuffs because it would breach his human rights - so a van was scrambled from 60 miles away for the 30 second journey. Campaigners and MPs branded the decision "a shocking waste of money" and said it was "no wonder" Britain's criminal justice system was in such a state of chaos.

Bailey appeared from custody before Northampton Crown Court Tuesday morning charged with stealing cable from a railway line. A judge decided it was better dealt with by magistrates and Bailey was ordered to appear the same day. However, by this time the prison van had gone. Police refused to walk him across Victoria Road, which separates the buildings, so a van was called from Cambridge, 57 miles away, to pick him up and drop him off.

He finally arrived at the magistrates' court two hours and 40 minutes after the van was called. Charged with theft and going equipped, Bailey, from Northampton, was remanded in custody.

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire police said it would "not be appropriate" to walk a prisoner down a public street. She said: "Once a person is in the courts system, they are no longer in police custody and police are not responsible for their transportation. "It would not be appropriate for prisoners to walk in a public area while in custody for many reasons, including public safety issues, as well as the safety and human rights of the prisoner. "Until someone has been convicted of an offence they are innocent in the eyes of the law and it would therefore be inappropriate for them to be escorted across a busy main road in handcuffs."

Brian Binley, Conservative MP for Northampton South, said: "I've never heard such nonsense. Why we should have to suffer such ludicrous incompetence, and pay for it, is beyond me. "In my view, Bailey should have been escorted across the road but if they were worried about him absconding, they could have put him in a squad car - the police station is just around the corner."

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, added: "This is absurd and a total waste of money. "No wonder our prisons are in such a state of chaos, if they can't even manage to escort a prisoner 200 yards between buildings. "If anyone had shown a bit of initiative this could have been sorted out in five minutes, but instead taxpayers had to foot the bill for this wasteful trek."

A barrister at the court - who wishes to remain anonymous - said: "The transport of prisoners to court is ludicrous and a joke." A spokesman for Global Solutions Limited, responsible for the movement and security of prisoners, said: "It was an unplanned movement and the van had gone to do other things. It is not a taxi service and has a range of duties to make best use of taxpayers' money. "It is more efficient doing it this way than having a load of vehicles sitting around outside court just in case." He said he did not know whether the van came from Cambridge


The incredible British police again

Masked men caught on church roof stealing lead... but that's not enough evidence, say police

When three masked men were caught on the roof of an ancient church that had been stripped of lead worth œ100,000, villagers felt their prayers had been answered. Police arrived in time to catch the trio - in balaclavas and masks - red-handed. Lead had been taken off and rolled up nearby ready to be taken away. But to the astonishment of residents they only got a caution because officers decided they may just have been admiring the view.

After ten thefts of lead in as many months from St Helen's Church in Treeton, South Yorkshire, locals had become so desperate they had even set up their own undercover operation to catch them. However, police let the suspects off because of 'insufficient evidence'. The men had nothing incriminating in their possession when searched and no fingerprints could be taken from the stolen lead.

Churchwarden's wife Carole Robinson says 85 per cent of the lead on the roof has been taken. She added: 'It was beyond belief. The police said they could claim they had only gone up to look at the view. It left people furious. 'We have been plagued with lead thefts and when we finally catch men on the roof they let them off.'

The roof is covered with plastic sheets while officials raise 100,000 pounds to fix it, plus the same amount to repair the tower of the church, which is in the Domesday Book. Builders have erected scaffolding to replace the roof with stainless steel sheets, but thieves have used it to get easier access and steal lead they could not reach before.

Residents spotted the men on the roof after evening service on Sunday. Mrs Robinson said: 'The police arrived and the men came down and in effect gave themselves up. 'It seemed they had been caught red-handed. Lead had been removed and rolled up ready to be carried off. 'But the police said lead was not the kind of material you could get fingerprints from and they did not have enough evidence to take them to court because they could not link the men to the lead. I felt totally vulnerable. The law seems to be on the side of the criminals.'

Suggestions from police that the men were just 'youths' caught on scaffolding were angrily refuted. She said: 'They were men aged between 20 and 30 and they had balaclavas and gloves. I think it's quite wrong for the police dismiss this as youths playing on the scaffolding.'

But Chief Inspector Jason Harwin said: 'Four officers, including a dog handler, spoke with three youths who were on the scaffolding. 'Officers searched all three and examined the surrounding area but found no evidence that any offences had been committed, nor that the youths possessed any articles with which to commit any offences. Officers had no power to arrest these youths. They were warned to stay away from the property. 'Operations have been conducted to catch offenders stealing lead but these have been to no gain. Work is continuing to tackle the issue.'

Thefts of lead from church roofs have become a national problem. Ecclesiastical Insurance, which covers 95 per cent of Anglican churches in Britain received 2,000 claims relating to lead thefts worth 6 million in 2007. In 2005, there were 80 claims for 300,000 pounds.


Greenies: Britain should have 'zero net immigration' policy

Greenies hate people anyway so it figures

Britain should set an example to the world by reversing its steeply-rising population growth and allowing no more people into the country than leave, the Government's chief "green" adviser has said. Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, said it was entirely possible to be "very progressive" on immigration while still having a policy of "zero net immigration" and no further population growth

Mr Porritt told an audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival, he would like to see Britain's population on a declining trend, instead of increasing to 65 million in ten years and to 70 million by 2031. Mr Porritt, who is a patron of the charity, the Optimum Population Trust, warned that globally spending on family planning was "massively" lower than the 8 billion pounds spent on HIV/Aids. Yet it should be around 12.5 billion to 15 billion if the world was to avoid a population of more than 9 billion or more by 2050.

Mr Porritt warned that in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, population trends were increasing "disastrously" because of low spending on family planning. In Kenya and Ethiopia, spending on family planning was now running at 2 per cent of spending on HIV/Aids. As a result the population of Kenya, which had been thought to be around 40 million by the mid-century was now expected to be 80 million. "We are guaranteeing an unstoppable flow of problems like HIV and Aids into the future," he said.

Mr Porritt said there were "complex cultural and religious reasons" why globally family planning had such a low priority. "I've highlighted the malign combination of a Catholic church which sees contraception as a wicked sin, a religious, ideological approach to family planning in the United States, politically correct and ignorant environmentalists and development economists."

He said it was "incomprehensible" why environmentalists and development economists would not acknowledge the significance of family planning and population policies. In fact, if one looked at the amount of carbon it would be possible to emit in 2050, without contributing to dangerous climate change, it was 10 billion tons of carbon, around one ton per person. The larger the world's population was the more uncomfortable that would be, but if the right policies were adopted 30 years earlier it would be possible to keep the world's population at around 8 billion.

Mr Porritt said people were uneasy talking about family planning as a means of reducing population growth. "Politicians won't touch it because they think it will get them into trouble on immigration policy." Others thought "it takes you into China's one child per family and other authoritarian policies." But he highlighted the example of Iran, where population growth had been halted simply through education, backed by religious leaders.

Around the world, he said, it was a universal truth that the longer girls remained in education, the fewer children they had. Mr Porritt said that the prevailing assumption of UN economists that population growth would fall as the world got richer was out of sync with the need for the human race to live within environmental limits. "We can't wait for Bangladesh to get rich enough to do something about it. It will be game over for human kind at that point."



Car tax hikes for millions of drivers became the latest ticking timebomb under Gordon Brown's leadership last night. Despite mounting Labour unrest, the Prime Minister launched a stubborn defence of the plans and said they were an effective means of cutting carbon emissions.

Tory leader David Cameron warned Mr Brown he was likely to lose his job if he refused to scrap what he called 'deeply unpopular and unenvironmental' changes to vehicle excise duty. Pointing to the growing rebellion among Labour MPs over the plans, Mr Cameron bluntly told Mr Brown during angry exchanges at Prime Ministers' Questions: 'If you don't get rid of it, they will probably get rid of you.'

Already 40 Labour MPs have signed a Commons motion and calling for a rethink - enough to wipe out the party's majority if they join forces with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. What one backbencher has called Labour's 'poll tax on wheels' looks increasingly likely to turn into a re-run of the fiasco over the scrapping of the 10p tax rate. MPs fear less well-off drivers - who are unable to afford to change their vehicles - will be worst hit.

Privately, senior ministers expect the Government to have to back down - particularly over a proposal to apply road tax increases retrospectively.... Mr Brown defended the changes as vital to tackling climate change.

More here

The mouse that roared (for once): "The policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have helped to generate a spiritual, civic and economic crisis in Britain, according to an important Church of England report. Labour is failing society and lacks the vision to restore a sense of British identity, the report says in the Church's strongest attack on the Government for decades. It accuses the Government of "deep religious illiteracy" and of having "no convincing moral direction". The report, commissioned for the Church of England and to be published on Monday, accuses the Government of discriminating against the Christian Churches in favour of other faiths, including Islam. It calls for the appointment of a "Minister for Religion", who would act as the Prime Minister's personal "faith envoy" and who would recognise the contribution of faith communities to Britain across every government department. The report comes only days after Dr Sentamu accused Mr Brown of sacrificing liberty for misguided notions of equality and of betraying new Labour's mantra of "rights and responsibilities". It shows the extent to which church leaders feel betrayed by the Government's embrace of a secular agenda".

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